Monday, September 26, 2022

Behold, a pale horse

"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. " Revelations 6:7-8 

I'm thinking tonight of the Ukraine Russia War -- once again, history is "galloping riderless across the landscape" with no direction and no control. The possibility of nuclear war has reared its ugly head, and we don't know whether it will happen or not.   
With Ukraine's recent success in pushing back Russian occupation, Putin seems terrified that Ukraine is winning. So he is doubling down - mobilizing more Russian soldiers, setting up sham referenda to create a phony pretext to claim that Occupied Ukraine belongs to Russia, and threatening a nuclear response if the Ukraine military continues fighting to liberate this so-called "Russian" territory. I expect Putin also thinks he can frighten Europe and NATO into forcing Ukraine to agree to a ceasefire. 
NATO and European leaders are having none of it.
Here is the bottom line: And this is terrible. When this war is over, it will take years to recover.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

If you thought Covid was "over", think again

Seen in a tweet!

What I cannot understand is why so many people think Covid is "over", though thousands are still getting it and dying from it around the world. 
We have our next booster booked now - scheduled for early October, it will be our Moderna bivalent shot and I hope it will last us until spring, when we will likely need another booster. 
I know everybody is tired of Covid now - I certainly am. We're all sick to death of it, so to speak. 
I still mourn for the Before Times - life the way we lived it before March 2020. 
But the world isn't about my delicate fee-fees. The Now Times are about staying alive and healthy, and keeping our family alive and well too, and to that extent I can even appreciate renewing my focus on what is really important and letting trivialities slip away.
Maybe someday we will be able to talk about the After Times. But in the meantime we will just keep on masking and getting boosters until the world is vaccinated and they figure out how to treat Long Covid. 
I have been collecting a few interesting Covid tweets over the last few weeks:

Today's news: Ferocious Fiona

It's been a terrible night and day in Atlantic Canada as they grapple with that bitch Fiona: But what impresses me most right now is how Canadians are all wanting to help: Absolutely - outstanding! And here's the ridiculous story of the day. So for some reason, Fisheries and Oceans Canada thought today would be a good day to remind people about the rule against picking up a washed-up lobster on a beach: Twitter rocked with laughter: Twitter concluded that eating a dead lobster wouldn't be very healthy anyway. But then someone worried about all the seagulls that will show up to feast on the dead beach lobsters, and it went downhill from there. Anyway, finally Fisheries and Oceans deleted it: So only this remained:

Saturday, September 24, 2022

From the Bookmarks

Well, the great Roger Federer played his last match today - it wasn't "one for the ages" but it was pretty nice, a doubles with Nadal at the Laver Cup in London. 
I didn't get into watching tennis until just a few years ago, when we got a big-screen TV and then our son explained to me how the game was scored - the score is what dictates a lot of the player strategy.
Anyway, I really enjoy tennis now and particularly watching the GOATs like Serena and Federer: Here's a terrific essay about what tennis can mean to a fan - it includes a video summary of the 2017 Aussie Open final, likely one of the greatest tennis matches ever played, when Federer and Nadal fought it out for 5 incredible sets. Some funny tweets:

Friday, September 23, 2022

Today's News: It's going to be a marathon, not a sprint

Philip Evergood 'The Dance Marathon'

This marathon will be exhausting.
Pierre Poilievre hasn't even been Conservative leader for two weeks yet. By the time the 2025 election finally arrives, we're all going to be as shell-shocked and tired as those marathon dancers in Evergood's 1935 painting.
So here's what happened this week.
On Monday we heard all about how Trudeau had been caught singing when he was in London for the funeral.  Of course, the Conservatives were shocked -- SHOCKED - to find that singing had been going on. 
They talked about it all day Tuesday, and then on Wednesday this happened:
Alberta Conservative MP Garnett Genius was trying to parody Bohemian Rapsody lyrics while he raked the Liberals over the coals, because that's the music Trudeau was singing in London. 
 And all we can conclude about Genius's skill as a lyricist is, don't quit your day job. 
 Even Michelle Rempel-Garner was not impressed: So anyway, then freelance press gallery journalist Dale Smith tweeted this: Now, you young whippersnappers won't remember, but there was an incredible Sydney Pollack movie from 1969 starring Jane Fonda about a dance marathon titled "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and  this phrase became part of our culture. 
So this may have been the reference alluded to in the tweet.
But when the Conservatives saw it -- bring out more fainting couches and begin the pearl clutching!
The tweet itself wasn't ratioed, but suddenly Smith found himself accused of issuing threats to an MP and the monkeys began to fly: 
The Press Gallery produced a mealy-mouthed statement that sort-of supported Smith, but with a tone of "oh darn now we have to defend a journalist AGAIN!" -- because remember the Akin affair was just last week:

Some journalists were not impressed with the press gallery statement: Others appeared to think the statement was "well-worded" - harumph! harumph! And speaking of mealy-mouthed, here's Genius' response to Coyne: Of course, there actually are some larger issues going on:
Today, Smith talked about the rage-farming problem in his Routine Proceedings newsletter: 
...The point here is that this is how the intimidation game is played, and why they think that journalists are uniquely vulnerable. 
If you are critical about anyone on their team, they declare that you are biased, even though you are critical about every team. 
They howl and moan, in the hopes that you either apologise and retract, and then they know that you’re weak, and that they can silence you through these kinds of tactics. 
It’s partially why so many journalists have resorted to scrupulously both-sidesing all of their lies—because they screamed and moaned about being treated unfairly, and insisting that they were “insulted” when they were called out for their blatant falsehoods, and yes, this has absolutely happened—until those reporters and their editors stop calling them out, and instead, just both-sides what is said. 
Both-sidesing in turn allows them to lie with impunity, because they know they won’t be called out for it, lest they begin this cycle again. 
And now, our political discourse is completely fucked as a result. 
So no, I’m not going to let Scheer or Ballingall intimidate me, and their winged monkeys don’t scare me. 
Now Genius has asked for the Speaker to revoke Smith's press gallery credentials and Smith told CBC he will be refraining from further comments himself until that ruling has been made.
And whatever results, regardless of whether Smith ultimately apologizes or not, the whole contretemps will have a chilling effect on the press gallery.
And Poilievre hasn't even been leader for two weeks!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Today's News: Conspiracy Theories

Does anyone still remember that 1997 Mel Gibson - Julia Roberts movie Conspiracy Theory?
It was supposed to be just a thriller - comedy. 
Turns out, it was also predicting the crazy now in too much of our society. 
So maybe this is how Conspiracy Theories get started: Here's another one:

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Today's News: "It's still real. It's still terrifying. It's still hard" 

Inquests were just announced into the massacre of Sept. 4: The Queen's funeral distracted Canada over the last week from the continuing events related to James Smith Cree Nation and the massacre.  A major Canadian Press story today provides an update to how James Smith Cree Nation residents have been managing their grief.
 “It’s still real. It’s still terrifying. It’s still hard,” Stonestand said. 
“A lot of hurt you can feel in this community. A lot of it. Wherever you go. And people have no trust, but they’re trying to come out.” 
Residents attend cultural events, sweat ceremonies and feasts wearing “James Smith Strong” T-shirts. The sacred fire that serves as a spiritual doorway for the dead still dances. 
.... While the community looks to shed the darkness that hovered over it on Sept. 4 and restore order with traditional ceremonies and plates full of bannock, they still await answers. 
Moostoos said the First Nation has requested a timeline of the stabbings from RCMP, without the gory details, to help them heal. 
He said there’s no use speculating what happened or why, as it only leads to more rumours. 
 “Right now we’re knocked down,” Moostoos said. “But we will get back up and we’ll get back up with pride when our community comes together.” 
This Phil Tank Star-Phoenix column from last week talks about the questions that remain and whether an Indigenous police force would have made a difference: 
 Would an Indigenous police service have prevented the Sept. 4 tragedy that rocked the nation and shocked the world? There’s no way to say. 
But it seems possible that a more robust Indigenous policing presence may well have been able to locate mass murder suspect Myles Sanderson, a serial violent offender who was deemed “unlawfully at large” in May, prior to the murder spree. 
Given Indigenous people’s historic mistrust of the RCMP — with many good reasons, some as recent as the police force’s actions after the 2016 shooting death of Colten Boushie — this seems a logical step.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Today's News: #ISingWithTrudeau

So today the Queen was laid to rest in a beautiful ceremony -- here are a few of the tweets I flagged about the most-watched funeral in world history: Meghan McCaine is getting ratioed for this idiotic remark: And this explains a lot, doesn't it:

Monday, September 19, 2022

Today's News: Ratioed

To begin, I need to give a definition of "ratioed" - Merriam-Webster defines it as "A quantitative measure of how little they like your take." 
A tweet is "ratioed" when only a few people "Like" it or "Re-Tweet" it, compared to the large number of people who are hitting "Reply" to say something negative about it:
This week, we saw two painfully ignorant Ratio examples, both related to the Queen's funeral and Canada's attendance there-at. 

First, a tweet from the Globe and Mail - 300 likes vs 1,900 replies:
The response was immediate and incredulous. I thought this was a funny one: And this one:
People were also annoyed to see the Globe and Mail refer to PMJT as just "Mr. Trudeau" when they should have been calling him Prime Minister Trudeau -- the funeral isn't a campaign event, he is attending in his official capacity as Prime Minister. 
But mainly, the thousands of Canadians replying to this tweet were annoyed with the needless, gratuitous and mean-spirited sniping at PMJT.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

From the Bookmarks

What a week! 
Here are some palate cleansers I have been collecting:

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Corruption of the Soul

Two very different stories this week, from different countries, and yet there is a connection at their core. Both the DeSantis' Martha's Vineyard stunt and the Poilievre press conference freak-out demonstrate, I believe, the kind of corruption going on in our politics today. 
It doesn't follow the usual definition of political corruption - when someone is lusting after public money. 
It is something different -- the kind of corruption where political power itself is the object of lust.
Basically, it's the power to tell people to Fuck Off -  or even, Fuck Off And Die - without a second thought -- just because someone thinks the exalted position to which they aspire will give them that kind of power.
Its the ultimate Karen moment, the I Demand To Speak To The Manager outrage, the Do You Know Who I Am? riposte.
In Steve Schmidt's substack today about the Martha's Vineyard immigrant stunt, he describes Ron DeSantis like this
 ...The images of decent people coming to the aid of people who are scared, lost, confused and stigmatized will present the backdrop for the November choice ahead. This is the choice: decency or cruelty. Freedom or control. Democracy or MAGA. 
... Here is what matters: this is the audition. What does [DeSantis] want? He wants to be the American head of state. He wants to feel what it’s like to be the commander-in-chief of the most potent and deadly military in the history of humanity. 
This is how he thinks he gets there. He is talking to the small group of extremist donors, pundits, academics, and militia thugs who he believes control the Republican nominating process. 
DeSantis knows these people don’t want to talk about American unity. He knows they reject the notion of “E Pluribus Unum.” They aren’t interested in building or making things better. They want to punish, dominate and control half the country. 
DeSantis is laying his cards on the table. He is making an offering. He is trying to say, “I will hurt the people you hate”. What he is saying is, “Give me power, and anything is possible.” 
 It has become difficult for MAGA politicians to distinguish themselves given the magnitude and severity of their movement’s disgrace, sedition and cruelty. Yet, DeSantis has managed to do it here. 
The Florida Governor is unfit, both morally and ethically. 
...What does it mean when the practice of cruelty is put front and center, and the unfitness to lead in a pluralistic society becomes the elemental qualification for the nomination of one of the two major parties in America? 
It means we have arrived at an hour of national crisis that demands an end to an era defined by a lack of imagination. 
Did you see those stunned and confused people this week? If it can happen to them, then it means Ron DeSantis can wish it for you. 
Achieving that wish doesn’t require any more malice on his part. It just requires more power. 
He would love to live in a world where he can do anything because he has power. 
 What do I think he would do with it? I think he would kill a lot of people, and I think that people who don’t see that are very naive. 
Why do I believe that? Look at the faces of the lost and sacred people in Martha’s Vineyard. That could be you. 
This tweet also relates this kind of power:
This is the kind of power that Trump really enjoyed using and abusing when he was President - he could tell the Joint Chiefs of Staff they were all cowardly assholes and they just had to sit there and take it because I Yam The President! 
It's why Trump lusts to be president again. 
Here in Canada, achieving this kind of power is also why Poilievre lusts to be Prime Minister - he wants people to quake in their boots when he walks into a room. 
Based on the remarks he made during his leadership campaign, he seems to lust to fire civil servants, to "de-fund" the CBC, to order around the Bank of Canada. And the people to whom these orders are issued would just grovel and cringe and bend the knee as they bow their way out of Poilievre's office. He seems to thinks a Prime Minister should be able to issue any orders he wants to his members of Cabinet and then can send the boys in short pants, the flying monkeys, into the ministries to keep tabs on them, as Harper did. 
So when Poilievre deigns to makes an announcement to the media, and they shout back at him as Akin did, then he flips out - scowling, sneering, insulting, lashing back. How dare they? Don't they know Who I Am?
It is a profound self-indulgence. 
Yes, paranoid populism is a worldwide phenomena -- in yesterday's Globe and Mail, Justin Ling provided a summary of "paranoid populism" around the world while recognizing the danger that Poilievre poses for Canada. But then Ling quickly takes refuge in a comforting belief that Poilievre isn't really as nutty as these other guys:
A huge swell in real-world violence, harassment, intimidation and death threats against health care workers, journalists and politicians have shown how fervently these people believe in their cause. Indeed, anti-government fervour informed a plan to kill the Prime Minister in 2020 and an alleged plot to murder police officers during the blockade in Coutts, Alta.
Whether it is out of genuine concern or a post-facto justification, Mr. Poilievre’s camp believes that the Conservatives can moderate this small but vocal minority, even if extremists walk among them. But even if they don’t, they figure, beating Mr. Trudeau would vindicate the risk.
Yeah sure -- all those other countries couldn't deal with paranoid populists, but our Canadian guy can? Oh, dream on. I'm afraid Canadian media is already creating a Poilievre persona as a rational actor who can ride the whirlwind.  
Message to the media: he can't.  Because he doesn't want to.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Today's News: A mind is a terrible thing to lose

Britain appears to have lost its mind over the death of a 96-year-old woman  Even Cyril the Swan is paying respect:
At Slate, London writer Imogen West-Knights writes
Since the queen died last Thursday, the country has ground to a halt. 
The queen is dead for breakfast, the queen is dead for lunch, and you’ll want to leave room for a nice hearty portion of the queen is dead for dinner, too. People are still going to work, sure, but there is no press except press about the queen being dead. 
Every business in the country—from chicken shops to pork jerky brads, chemists to cobblers—have felt the need to issue a public statement of grief about the queen dying. Supermarkets have turned down the beeps on their self-checkout machines to mark their depth of feeling for the queen. Our weather forecaster, the Met Office, has cut back the number of weather reports it is issuing “as a mark of respect during this time of national mourning.” An amusement park company, Center Parcs, announced its intention to kick all vacationers staying in their parks out for one day, the queen’s funeral, before realizing just how deranged that would be and making a U-turn. 
But there is also something more sinister brewing here. Hospital appointments on the day of the queen’s funeral are cancelled. Food banks are closed. Normal people’s funerals are also cancelled. 
On the day the queen died, Liz Truss, our new prime minister, quietly lifted the ban on fracking in this country and also announced a plan to relieve Britons of crippling energy bills this winter without explaining where that money is going to come from. 
I’m not suggesting that anybody offed the queen early for political expediency, but parliament will now be closed for a month: again, to respect the dead queen.
This could hardly come at a worse time for the country. 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Today's News: True Colours

Day Four of Poilievre's leadership and his true colours are already showing: Even when Poilievre and the Conservatives do try to sort-of apologize, its just so stupid that its unbelievable. 
First, the stupid: Next, the unbelievable:

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Today's News: Sorting it out

I was trying to sort out the David Akin vs Pierre Poilievre contretemps yesterday and I couldn't figure out what happened or who did what.
I should just have waited for Dale Smith's column today:
...the federal government has announced their assistance package for low-income people dealing the effects of high inflation, and Poilievre calls a press conference to react. And the spectacle begins. 
David Akin, one of the reporters present, takes offence that Poilievre insists he won’t take questions (and he hasn’t since he was made leader), and starts shouting questions at him. 
And what does Poilievre do? Call Akin a “Liberal heckler” (because the pool camera can’t see Akin as he’s behind it), and a few hours later, sends out a fundraising appeal to his base that plays victim, that the media is out to get him, and that they’re all protecting Trudeau, and that you need to send him money to take on both Trudeau and the media. 
It’s gross, it undermines institutions, it undermines democracy, but he doesn’t care. It’s his game. And most of the media in this country have no idea how to react to it, and it’s going to be a real problem going forward. 
Here's the background: Also, Smith's "hermit crab" analogy is great here:
On a side note, the Royals are having their challenges these days: Finally, yesterday I saw this tweet and the comments and suggestions that followed: So now I have put together a new Twitter List that I call "Tweet Masters" so I won't lose track of the best tweeters on the Internet. You can follow this list if you want:

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Notable from the Emmys

We sorta hate-watched the Emmys this year - we hadn't seen very many of the shows nominated, so the awards didn't mean very much to us really. 
I was disappointed that much of the time, the celebrities presenting the awards seemed to think the show was about them - while the poor nominees were sitting there on tenterhooks, with their pasted-on smiles, the presenters were preening and goofing around, forgetting their job was to read out the winner and get off the stage. 
And the clips from the nominees flew past so fast it was hard to keep track of who was being nominated for what. 
All in all, it was an odd way to direct an awards show, really -- the Hollywood Reporter review agreed. 
But we did love these two highlights: The Dropout was a pretty good series - remarkable acting job by Amanda Seyfried, too. I wish Better Call Saul had won a few awards;  though I'm glad that Squid Game did, because it was a game-changer. 
And finally -- hey, thanks, Obama! From Gurdeep: And some very happy Ukrainians: Chef Andres deserves a Nobel - where ever people need food, there he is:

Monday, September 12, 2022

From my Bookmarks

As I scroll Twitter, I often bookmark interesting comments and funny tweets. But I don't always get the opportunity to include them in my nightly blog post -- sometimes they are too much off-topic, other times I want to collect more before I blog them.
Here are the tweets I have bookmarked recently -- enjoy!: Christ, what an asshole! I keep seeing funny tweets recently that are based on the "You can only call it champagne if its from the Champagne Region of France" meme. So I decided to collect some:

Sunday, September 11, 2022

A Community of Healing

It has been just a week since the James Smith Cree Nation was shattered. 
After the death of Myles Sanderson and his brother Damien, it seems like the world has moved on to other news stories. 
But of course the story will not really be over so quickly. This is the meaning of community: From Wednesday - And today - In Edmonton today - And in Hamilton today - Reporter Zac Vescera wrote in Saturday's Star Phoenix:
... a killer’s capture does not mean closure. The search is ended, but the Burns family and others are beginning the wakes, the funerals, the sweat lodges and the hard work of grieving.
There was a mother of two, a veteran, and Herbert Burn’s sister Gloria Burns, an addictions counsellor who spent her life lifting others up.
Her brothers say they are following Gloria’s example by urging forgiveness for the accused perpetrators and their families, hoping an unthinkable tragedy can knit their community together instead of pushing it apart.
“How are we going to face each other, living on a piece of land that is six miles by 12 miles square?” said Ivor Burns, a community elder and one of Gloria’s brothers. “How are we going to do that unless we heal? And in order to heal, we have to forgive the people.”
...Myles Sanderson’s death means the community may never know exactly why he did what he did. But many on the First Nation are focused on the bigger picture.
Chief Wally Burns called for more access to substance use treatment on the reserve as well as local control over police. Others have proposed reforms to the justice system entirely.
“The problem is not those two boys,” Ivor Burns said.
Even in tragedy, the Burns family has gone out of its way to welcome journalists. On Thursday, Ivor Burns refused to let this reporter leave his house without a cup of coffee and some cookies. Darryl Burns has been fielding phone calls from reporters across the country, which he admits is not easy.
“After the press conference, there were so many of the reporters who wanted to speak with me. It was hard for me to sort out my own feelings,” he said. “It was hard for me to look after my partner and do the things I needed to do.”
Now, he says, it is time to mourn. Gloria’s body will soon be returned to their home and finally laid to rest. Then, he hopes the healing can start.
“We’re not going to be remembered as a community of tragedy,” Darryl Burns said. “We’re going to be remembered as a community of healing and forgiveness, and strength and courage.”